Readers letters: City is wasting money on leak investigation
What happened to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, being falsely blamed for a hit-and-run is shameful and the culprits involved should be punished.
But the city spending $50,000 on an Los Angeles consulting firm to investigate a leak seems excessive. We should re-direct this expenditure to families in Portland experiencing hunger.
The leadership in Portland has consistent problems with priorities and nearly zero awareness of optics.
Don't let our children's museum slip away
The Portland Children's Museum is a cherished venue for my family, and this is inarguably true for countless other local families.
Affordable, convenient and accessible, a visit always meant hours of unfettered, sheer delight and education for my toddler.
We are troubled, as is much of our community and its youngest denizens, about the impending loss of the museum.
This long-standing institution, which is nothing less than a physical embodiment of each child's playful spirit and curiosity, cannot be restored once it is dismantled. How does its dissolution represent our community, if we fail to put our energy and financial resources together to preserve a place that is inextricably linked to our children's happiness and development?
The things that survive this pandemic are unquestionably evidence of our values. Portland is a community that values social justice, the environment, beer, artisan eateries, dogs and above other things, children and education, is it not? Can we allow for this museum, beloved to our youngest residents, to be hurriedly taken away from them without deliberation or a chance for a coordinated, public effort to save it? What will be left to enjoy, especially for families on limited budgets that can't easily replace this loss?
Whatever financial obstacle the Portland Children's Museum is facing, it surely is not "insurmountable." A few days prior to the board's announcement, enrollment invitations were extended for the Opal preschool. This is a problem that can be remedied and it comes down to whether it's something we will do together as a community.
Portland, we don't need more coffee shops, marijuana dispensaries or breweries, however enticing those things may be for we adults. Our children need and deserve a chance to experience the joy of childhood again in this fashion, please don't let it (and Opal School) slip away.
Find a solution to homeless 'parking' problem
Let's reference our historic non-achievements and fast-forward this proposed camping in the parks movie to the unintended (but predictable) consequences that will logically follow.
It opens with Portland giving the unsheltered a change-of-address card. But soon limited resources will prove inadequate to enforce the camping regulations, to clean and clear necessary parking lot spaces and their accumulation of hazardous waste and to prevent overflow into the nearby neighborhoods adjacent to parks.
Do we have successes that would suggest otherwise? Perhaps one: Bybee Lakes Hope Center.
We need to do a pre-mortem (opposite of a post-mortem or retrospective) on this proposal. Do scenario planning. Develop the most likely problem scenarios of what could result from this proposal and gauge Portland's capacity to respond to each one of them. Don't initiate scenarios that are projected to produce an inadequate or problematic response by the city and its unsheltered population.
Then there's the unintended consequence of assumed "rights" or entitlement.
People sheltering in these parks and parking lots, for substantial lengths of time, and their supporters, will intuitively develop a legalistic sense of property rights, access rights and entitlement. Attempts by the city to someday end this makeshift parks solution (hopefully in favor of a root-causes solution) will then face a social-legal assortment of demonstrations, conflicts, and legal adversaries in expensive court battles.
After all of this, our time, attention and resources will have been diverted to mostly relocating, not resolving, a serious social problem.
Don't turn our parks into homeless shelters
We need a solution to our homeless problem, including workable short-term and permanent shelters. But using open spaces (including parks, natural areas, trails, golf courses, and community centers) isn't a solution, even for short term.
I walk in my neighborhood park almost every day. I see dozens of people using the park for recreation — people walking, jogging, children playing, dogs playing, soccer and other team sports, picnics, chess games, book clubs, etc.
The park was not made for residential use. It is one or the other.
Yes, we need to find a place for homeless people. But not a place other people are already using.
Using open spaces might look like a short-term solution because the space is there. But this would be a stop gap that would not move us towards a lasting solution to the homeless problem. And it would cause different problems for the parks and other open spaces and for the many people who use them. That is not a fix; it's a mistake.
Instead, Portland should use federal COVID-19 relief money and money from the Metro Homeless Services ballot measure to find suitable shelter spaces throughout the city — spaces that can become permanent if they work for the people they need to serve.
That is more difficult to accomplish. But it will be better in the long run. Much better than building a bad decision into the zoning code that we will regret for a long time.
Keeping parks, open spaces, and their buildings out of the mix of available options for homeless shelters should be made crystal clear in the zoning code. It needs to be made explicit and not just a promise of how the zoning code will be interpreted or applied.
Infrastructure plan isn't what we think it is
President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan isn't an infrastructure plan. That's false.
The plan is $1.3 trillion (55%) for social programs and subsidies, sneaking by on the good part of $1 trillion (only 45%) that is actually for Infrastructure.
Stick with only the important infrastructure part, as promoted, and we get what we need with smaller needed tax increases.
Even better, suspend the requirement to pay top wages (prevailing wage), use private-sector type bidding, and we will get 15% more good paying jobs and 15% more infrastructure.
We must be prepared for the next pandemic
Last March, what seemed like a temporary lockdown turned into the beginning of a long and challenging year for many around the world.
With all the difficulties faced during the COVID-19 restrictions, it was extra frustrating to see the blatant politicization of this virus begin almost immediately.
Intentional misinformation was spread and everyone had a different approach leading to inconsistent results across the country. Making this an even worse situation was the already present hardline partisan environment in Washington, D.C., where there was, and remains, a tenuous relationship between the two major parties.
COVID-19 has killed 2.5 million people globally, including 500,000 Americans. Despite your political affiliation, might be this is unacceptable by any standard.
Unity is something that we need for the recovery of our communities and the efficiency of our governmental legislation process. Supporting bipartisan legislation like the Global Health Security Act (H.R. 391) is a step in the right direction. This bill would increase inter-agency communication for pandemic responses and form a council to provide policy recommendations in these situations among other things.
If we have learned anything this last year it is that we were not prepared for this pandemic but we don't have to repeat our mistakes as much as we seem to like to.
How many lawmakers benefited from vaccines?
Regarding your March 24 editorial about Senate Bill 254, it continues to astonish me that educated adults, regardless of political ideology, allow parents to opt out of their children's vaccinations "just because."
It would be interesting to know how many legislators benefitted from childhood vaccinations that prevented them from such illnesses as measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox.
Legislators who themselves benefitted from immunizations should extend the same courtesy to the children they represent today. They can do this by passing SB254.
Our future? Humanity over wealth creation
I'm sure many Portlanders, as I do, want to express our appreciation to the Oregon Health Authority and All4Oregon hospital system for their trouble-free and efficient operation at the Oregon Convention Center vaccination site.
I would even say that walking the line through that vast hall was an enjoyable experience.
Really? Yes, because of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of helpful and congenial volunteers.
The human contact was delightful. In a way it reminded me of my last visit to Japan, where retail shops, outdoor markets, restaurants and train stations are well staffed by friendly workers, well-paid I've been assured.
Back at home the routine is: half a day at the computer, conducting business through website portals, with mouse clicks and passwords — not a human face in sight.
It's been this way for long before the COVID-19 lock-down. Has this become a permanent business model? Economic efficiency achieved by boosting stock values and reducing labor costs. How about those good old days when streets were filled with human activity and factory jobs could support a family's basic needs?
Maybe the convention center setting can be a kind of model for our future happiness: humanity over wealth creation, kindness over competition, earth sharing over exploitation.
Why did governor get J&J shot ahead of others?
It was upsetting when Gov. Kate Brown prioritized teachers ahead of the more vulnerable elderly for vaccinations just to satisfy the school lobbyists. And it was concerning when other reprioritizations occurred at the same time the state's online appointment system was (and still is) malfunctioning.
But what takes the cake is the governor (who is 60) getting vaccinated in violation of her own prioritization standards at a time when only those 65 and older are supposed to be eligible.
This was seemingly done for publicity purposes promoting the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In reality, these actions have shown both a level of incompetence and inequity in dealing with this emergency with the realization that the governor is exempting herself from her own vaccination standards.
Can someone please explain to us seniors what is going on here?
Year-round school could be the answer
Education matters more than schools. It can happen anywhere, on a job, field trip or volunteering to clean up Forest Park.
Going back to a crowded place to transfer germs is not always the best method. COVID-19 forced us to use new technology, finally.
But we can do better than that. If businesses closed their doors on their customers and staff and left their building three months a year, they would go broke. Students shouldn't have to go to school for nine months, five days a week.
To reduce the crowd, let them take off a day each week, to save three days per week for summer school.
If they don't want year-round school, let them pick any three-month season, winter, sping or fall, instead of just summer, that would also reduce crowded classrooms.
Let's teach what is of interest, so will be used, not waste time and money on what they don't need or want to learn, until they need to. Teach life skills, like cooking, sewing, paying bills, car maintenance or gardening.
And we need to solve emotional problems that classmates have seen or heard about that troubles them, like COVID-19 has affected generation C.
We can do more with less by improving our methods, teaching what is relevant, and recognizing that in a 3D world that problems have three sides to consider.
Dentists serve critical role in nation's health care
COVID-19 has created undeniable problems for the dentistry industry. Yet, our patients still need dental care — it is critical to their health.
So, we have adapted. Dentists in Oregon and nationwide are taking significant precautions to keep our staff and patients protected from the virus. And it has worked. COVID-19 is not spreading during routine dental care.
Dentists have always been an important part of health care. Not only is good dental health vital for eating and speaking, but the mouth also serves as a window into digestive and respiratory tracts.
We know that dental hygiene increases dentists' and our staffs' risk of exposure to the virus. Fortunately, with the help of our medical supplies and protective equipment, we have developed safe practices to protect ourselves and our patients against infections.
Now, dentists are stepping up once again. In addition to accepting the COVID-19 vaccine, we are also helping to administer it. In fact, at the end of last year, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be administered by a dentist took place right here in Oregon.
Dental offices are able to keep providing critical dental services and now access to vaccines because of our robust health care supply chain. Manufacturers continue to produce medical equipment, utensils and medications that we need to care for patients. Distributors are making sure critical products get to their destinations nationwide — and, they are also bringing vaccines into Oregon.
Just like our health care partners, dentists continue to provide critical dental services to our patients while also stepping up to do more by administering vaccines. This courage and commitment is what makes me confident we will get through these hard times.
Ryan F. Mueller, DMD
Time for billionaires to pay their fair share
COVID-19 has worsened the income inequalities that have plagued this country for generations.
While millions of families are struggling, billionaires have watched their fortunes skyrocket. The recent COVID stimulus bill brings much-needed relief in the short-term, and it leaves much on the floor.
While we continue to fight for a $15 minimum wage — which greatly impacts women, and disproportionately impacts women of color — we've watched billionaire wealth increase to $4.2 trillion, 40% higher than before the COVID crisis began.
Just imagine how an Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act could help Multnomah County. Affordable child care, free community college education like in the old days, and lower university costs.
I was tricked into taking out a "government insured student loan." I thought that meant that if I didn't get a job in my field (I didn't) and was unable to pay the loan off, that the government would pay the payments. No. A person can't even go bankrupt with student loans plus huge interest.
For far too long, the ultra-rich, corporations and their lobbyists have used their influence to rig the system in their favor. For far too long, the lives of these billionaires and elites have been deemed more important than the lives of the rest of us. We are worth more, and they should pay more.
It's time for the Billionaire Boys Club to pay their fair share.
I am committed to long-term gender, racial, and economic justice. The worth of women's lives and women's work is of the utmost importance to us all, to our economy, and to our country.
The Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021 is a critical step toward healing long-term wealth inequality.
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